n.e.w.s. is a collective online platform for the analysis and development of art-related activity, drawing upon contributions from around the globe, bringing together different voices, accents and outlooks from the North, East, West and South. | Read more..

02/08/2014 - 02/08/2015 (tz: Europe/Amsterdam)

Becoming deontological -- a politics of deontologizing art / an art of deontologizing politics

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losing_human_form

At one point in the mid-1980s, Sandinista leader Tomas Borge quipped in reference to some local grievance that “it may be true even though Ronald Reagan says it’s true.” It took his interlocutors a moment to get their heads around such a counterintuitive statement — after all, the US President so systematically distorted information that his assertions seemed to provide a pretty reliable benchmark regarding disinformation. Borge’s comment was less about obdurate “facts” than about how antagonistic outlooks may inadvertently tease hidden assumptions to light, compelling us to reappraise what no longer seems worth thinking about — if only we pay attention. The logic behind the “Borge paradox” is of enduring validity, particularly for untangling and reweaving the narratives of that conflicted decade; more contemporaneously, it is highly useful in helping us to understand — rather than to merely acc​ept — the stance of what is to date the most ambitious enquiry into the articulations between art and the political in 1980s Latin America. Losing Human Form is based not on a chronological but rather a political understanding of the eighties, which it sees as beginning prematurely in 1973 with the overthrow of Salvador Allende’s Popular Front in Chile and only coming to an end with the emergence of Zapatismo in 1995. Losing Human Form in its current configuration doesn’t actually examine the Sandinista experience — or that of the FMLN in neighbouring El Salvador, though the potential is definitely there — but these may well be focal points for future instantiations of this ongoing, collective research project, undertaken by the Red Conceptualismos del Sur (RCdS).

 
01/08/2014 - 01/08/2015 (tz: Europe/Amsterdam)

Summer Reading

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Friends of n.e.w.s. know that we n.e.w.s.casters have been working on a book for a while now. "A while now" perhaps understates things a tad, just as "working" overstates the measurable, nose-to-the-grindstone toiling that has gone on. But a book has been steeping, in the passive voice of the present continuous. And now it's time to churn it out.

 
Sunday, 02. March 2014 | 01:00 (tz: Europe/Amsterdam)

Crowdfunding: Monetizing the Crowd?

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Crowdfunding: Monetizing the crowds?

Not so very long ago the social ‘welfare states’ of Europe[1] provided health care for everyone and a sizeable amount of money for culture, which was generated from tax revenue. Many artists and cultural practitioners had the opportunity to apply for grants, supplemented by patronage, sponsorship, selling their work, or even having jobs. The contemporary discourse in the cultural sector has now shifted and takes its cues from neoliberal policies of management, adopting an ‘everything for the market’ attitude. This has led to Europe’s assimilation of a U.S. inspired laissez-faire approach to culture, and subsequently transformed cultural practices into the burgeoning imagination of the ‘creative industries’. This is marked by a particular condition of state withdrawal of financial support for culture while emergent forms of online, networked platforms increasingly facilitate private donations. For example, electronic money transfers using digital technologies have enabled micro-finance networks that restructure the funding support and patronage earlier available to cultural practitioners. These have ensured an even quicker transfer of the private wealth of citizens to individuals within the cultural sector, such as with the phenomenon of ‘crowdfunding’.[2]

 
Wednesday, 11. December 2013 | 01:00 (tz: Europe/Amsterdam)

Monetizing the Crowds

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In Marxist theory capitalism is unified through the exchange of commodities that mediate the interaction between people and their relations. Unlike feudal societies where people interacted subjectively and were familiar, in capitalism the producers of the products of labour in the factory are invisible and anonymous, and people relate to each other through the ‘universal equivalent’ or ‘money form’. [1] The social relations, then, appear as material objects or things, along with money as a fetishized commodity as a result of the reifying effects of this universalised trade in commodities. Nowadays, with the increasing advancement of digital technologies, microfinance enables monetary exchanges between willing and known parties through crowdfunding campaigns.

 

An Art Without Qualities: Raivo Puusemp's "Beyond Art -- Dissolution of Rosendale, N.Y."

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Indisputably one of the most exceptional documents in the history of concept art -- made up of archival material from one of the most thought-inspiring operations in the history of art on the 1:1 scale -- has recently been republished by Dublin's Project Arts Centre. Entitled Beyond Art - Dissolution of Rosendale, N.Y., it traces New-York conceptualist Raivo Puusemp's two-year tenure as mayor of the chronically conflicted and debt-beleaguered village of Rosendale, N.Y. between 1975 and 1977, from his election campaign to his resignation after successfully redrawing the political boundry lines, dissolving the bankrupt village and incorporating it into the neighbouring township of the same name. Puusemp's intervention, if we can call it that since he carefully avoided such artworldly jargon and at no time boasted that what he was doing was "art," has virtual urban-legend status in concept-art circles, after having been famously championed by Allan Kaprow in The Blurring of Art and Life. In fact, it seems that Puusemp's self-understanding as to the status of his political involvement and its outcome -- was it an artwork? an art-informed process? -- evolved over the course of his term as mayor. Yet, as he makes clear in his pithy introduction, Rosendale, A public work stemmed directly from his conceptual practice. It would be Puusemp's last acknowledged artistic project. And indeed, given its radically low coefficient of specific visibility, it is only thanks to Puusemp's friend Paul McCarthy that these documents were assembled and published at all -- in 1980, by the now defunct collective, Highland Art Agents. Upon resigning as mayor, Puusemp left Rosendale forever, moving to somewhere in Utah, and thereby joining the nebula of "offroad conceptualists" who have withdrawn from the artworld attention economy into the shadows, never performing what they do as art.

 

The Escapologist. Rasheed Araeen and the transformative potential of art beyond art

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Rasheed Araeen's Art Beyond Art belongs to that select category of artists' writings that includes Allan Kaprow's Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life, Martha Rosler's Decoys and Disruptions, Robert Smithson's Collected Writings, or Jimmie Durham's A Certain Lack of Coherence, which at once stake out irreversible art-historical positions and exemplify the full heuristic power of theory when pursued as a full-fledged practice. The practice of theory, of course, has never been a sideline pursuit for Araeen, the founding editor of Third Text -- a journal whose purpose and accomplishment it was to eke out a space of possibility for practices that actually existed but had no oversight on their conditions of visibility. Third Text's controlled coefficient of specific visibility as a collective, conceptual artwork situated it in the "art-beyond-art" category -- that is, of practices whose self-understanding is as art, but which manage to avoid being performed as art, somehow foiling the powerful apparatus of performative capture within what Araeen calls "the legitimising prisonhouse" of bourgeois aesthetics. Though Third Text, as we know, has since been captured by those very forces it had set out to challenge, Rasheed Araeen, we can be sure, eludes capture.

 

Screens

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We see in Man on the Moon, a biopic on Andy Kaufman, how he fragments his stage identity into multiple personas. These personas then become screens for new stories to unravel. In this text I propose the possibility of screens which are more than surfaces for projection. I set the ground for the next text which proposes a people-propelled-cinema.

Are screens just flat viewing surfaces? Can we blur their sharp edges? By asking these questions I propose that screens being one of the basic units of media analysis, is not an absolute or simplistic. In questioning models of participation and reward in usership based communities and in audiences, by letting screens overcome their flatness, we have new complexities to deal with.

 
Sunday, 09. June 2013 | 00:00 (tz: Europe/Amsterdam)

Viewership

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In this text I discuss viewing as a process and although it relates to usership it's not about using but viewing. It's not Paid Usership however yet it relates to it the French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard and his statement in Six fois deux that all viewers should be paid to watch television. This text is not about one-directional TV viewing, rather viewership here is describing two modes of visually engaging with cinema and then offers ways to account for the unpaid labour of visual engagement.

 
Thursday, 14. March 2013 | 01:00 (tz: Europe/Amsterdam)

Aesthetic Journalism

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Although some readers might uphold the 20th century definition of aesthetics as concerning subjective forms or 'beauty' enforced by a group of modernist believers, others would rather engage with a more open-ended terminology. Take for example, Alfredo Cramerotti's: 'a process in which we open our sensibility to the diversity of the form of nature (and man-made) environment and convert them to tangible experience.’ So in other words, most anything that is produced nowadays could be considered aesthetics? What is perhaps most engaging is how aesthetics is taken up in journalism, in other words what Cramerotti entitles aesthetic journalism, with his eponymous book.

Cramerotti states that this concept makes possible contributing to knowledge building with a new aesthetic regime, which, in turn, questions the truth-value of a traditional regime. More importantly, it denounces that the system of representation is the same as what it represents as journalism is thought of trying to do -being the same as the facts represented. According to him it involves those artistic activities in the form of investigating social, cultural and political circumstances that take shape in the art context, rather than media.

 
Friday, 25. January 2013 | 01:00 (tz: Europe/Amsterdam)

Uselessness, Refusal, Art, and Money (encounters with David Graeber's Towards an Anthropological Theory of Value).

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On Reading  Alone

I report here on an encounter with a book, and an encounter with the problems of reading itself.  The book: David Graeber's Towards an Anthropological Theory of Value.  which I picked up following the trail of Marcel Mauss' The Gift (Graeber's book is a meditation on the differing visions of Mauss and Marx for economic life as read through the lens of anthropology).  If you operate outside of institutions, which I typically do, one book leads to another and another along solitary and idiosyncratic paths.  You often find yourself in a cloud of companionship with people you've never met, some living, some dead, some speaking native languages you have no acquaintance with.  This is thrilling, but a little surreal. As you'll see, Towards an Anthropological Theory of Value was a pleasure to wrestle with and test ideas against, but for me it also represented the moment where I turned from an ideal of books engendering books in the future, to books as a way of making relationships in the present.